The land on which Simbithi now stands was once a farm, owned by two British officers who named it ‘Beverley’ after their hometown in Yorkshire, England. In 1919, George P Ladlau, whose father had settled in South Africa during the Anglo-Zulu war, bought the farm for 2000 pounds, a wagon and a span of oxen. Several years later, Ladlau purchased the adjacent farm – Beachcroft – from Cecile Richie and formed ‘Beverley Estate’. This was, ostensibly, the land that would eventually become Simbithi.Simbithi Eco-Estate Map
The farm boasted a vast acreage of indigenous forests, bush and natural wetlands and two artesian wells, all of which Ladlau left untouched: he believed the only way to protect the farm’s water supply was to keep the surrounding vegetation in place. This proved to be an inspired decision, further enforced by George’s son, Winston I Ladlau, when he assumed control of the farm on his return from the Second World War. The forests that characterise Simbithi today are those saved by this policy. The Beverley Estate homestead still stands firm today, near the Estate’s South Gate. The home was rebuilt in 1955 on the site of the original wattle and daub construction. Today, the house is magnificently framed by Rosemary’s world-famous garden.
The tree after which Simbithi Eco-Estate has been named is scientifically referred to as ‘millettia grandis’. Zulus refer to it as ‘Umzimbeet’, ‘UmSimbithwa’ or ‘Umsimbithi’. There are large, established groves of the trees on the northern and southern sides of the Estate and the narrow, erect spearhead flower sprays provide a purple lining to the forest coverings between November and March. The Zulus named the tree ‘Ironwood’ (the name of one of the roads in the Estate) because of the extreme density of the Umzimbeet’s wood.